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Week Ahead (9 January)

W/C Monday, 9 January – UK government to introduce new anti-strike legislation

As the parliament returns from recess, the UK government is expected to introduce new anti-strike legislation, unveiled last week.

The bill will enforce ‘’minimum service levels’’ in eight sectors, including healthcare, allowing bosses of key public services to sue unions and sack employees who refuse to work. Its key provisions have prompted a strong reaction from unions and the opposition, with the leader of Labour Party, Keir Stammer, saying he would reverse the legislation should his party form the next government.

Since last month, the country has been facing strikes daily, with trade union leaders threatening to coordinate industrial action and cause disruptions, as workers in the UK’s rail network, health sector, schools, and postal services demand higher wages.

Tuesday, 10 January – Eurostat data on EU house prices for Q3 2022

On Tuesday, Eurostat will release its latest set of data on EU house prices for Q3 2022. In Q2, house prices were up by 9.3% in the Eurozone and by 9.9% in the broader EU, compared with Q2 2021.

However, in September, the ECB raised interest rates by 0.75% - the largest increase made by the ECB Governing Council in a single session. A further increase of 0.75% was implemented at the October meeting.

According to the ECB’s own assessment, in a low interest rate environment, the estimated decline in house prices and housing investment in response to a 1 percentage point mortgage rate increase is about 9% and 15% respectively after about two years. Therefore, while a decline in house prices seems likely, we should not necessarily expect to see this manifest in the short term.

On Friday, Eurostat will also publish house sales statistics for Q3 2022 which will cover the volume of sales. In Q2 2022, the number of housing transactions decreased in 9 out of the 14 Member States covered, when compared with Q2 2021.

Tuesday, 10 January – EU Commissioners to meet with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew

On Tuesday, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Vestager, Vice-President Jourová, and Commissioners Johansson, Reynders, and Breton will meet with TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Crew. Although a specific agenda has not been published, the meeting holds particular importance as the popular Chinese video app faces increasing regulatory scrutiny. Last month, TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, was found to have illegally accessed the data of multiple journalists in the U.S, prompting a response by the U.S House of Representatives which ordered its ban from devices owned by the federal government.

TikTok’s rapid emergence in the European market has raised questions about the app’s safety and its compliance with privacy laws. Last year, TikTok was found in breach of EU consumer rules, concerning the duty to children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content, and was also forced to suspend its previously announced plans to change its privacy policy to comply with the EU’s GDPR.

Friday, 13 January – UK GDP data to be released as the country faces prospects of recession in 2023

New UK economic data will be released through this week, including an estimate for November GDP. GDP increased by 0.5% in October 2022, a return to growth following a contraction of 0.6% in September.

In Q3 2022, overall economic output shrank by 0.2%. The Bank of England has forecast that the UK is facing its longest recession since records began. Goldman Sachs and KPMG expect UK GDP to contract by 1.2% and 1.3% respectively in 2023 while the market consensus is for a contraction of around 0.5% next year.

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